Bridgeport PD sensory boxes help special needs community during emergencies

Each Bridgeport police cruiser is equipped with a sensory box filled with toys, including stress balls, fidget spinners and Slinkies.

Apr 28, 2023, 4:32 PM

Updated 358 days ago

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The Bridgeport Police Department is shedding light on a new program designed to help the special needs community during an emergency.

Each Bridgeport police cruiser is equipped with a sensory box filled with toys, including stress balls, fidget spinners and Slinkies.
"The toys work well with children with autism that crave a certain sensory input and often regulate their sensory needs," Capt. Manuel Cotto said. "It's extremely important when responding to a crime and time is of the essence and we're trying to speak to a child that may have special needs that's experiencing sensory overload."

Cotto told News 12 the toys recently helped him successfully resolve a situation involving a missing child with special needs.
"Arriving on scene, I saw the kid was experiencing a sensory overload, and we gave him something to play with and provided enough sensory input so that we were able to find out at least a phone number where we could call the parent and reunite the child," Cotto remembered. 

Cotto said the sensory boxes were purchased last year with funds raised through the department's annual Autism Awareness Month patch program. The program also raises money for local special education programs. It's a cause that's especially important to Cotto, who has a child with autism.
"The effort from the Bridgeport Police Department is definitely near and dear to raise awareness of autism," Cotto said. "As our program continues to build, we hope to include more schools and help other children."

Bridgeport police autism awareness patches are $20. To purchase one, call the chief's office at 203-581-5111.  


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